Breaking Into Startups: How a 16-year-old dropout became a senior engineer at Slack

Seven thousand people drop out of high school every day. The reasons these students drop out are complex, but society tends to perceive these individuals negatively. However, many of these people had to leave to support family or care for a member of the family, or faced other pressures that justify their decision.

Many of these students still want to learn a skill set that prepares them for the high-skilled careers that are the backbone of today’s economy.

This week’s Breaking Into Startups episode features Rodney Urqhart, who talks about how he acquired the skills to become a Senior Engineer at Slack after he dropped out of high school at 16 years old to work at Burger King, Sears, Best Buy, Comcast, ThoughtWorks and Microsoft (Yammer).

He also talks about what life was like in North Philadelphia versus the culture at Slack. In the next 20 minutes you’ll hear Urqhart talk about survival, interracial dynamics, negotiation techniques, ThoughtWork’s two-year engineering program focused on Agile software development (STEP), social justice and more.

Everybody performs differently in different settings, and Rodney talks about interview screening tactics to find someone with his background, soft skills and his role in the A* program at Dev Color mentoring other black engineers who want to break into tech.